How to Select an HVAC School near Pinetop Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Pinetop AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the right one to get the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let’s take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Pinetop AZ
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Pinetop AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it’s essential that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Pinetop AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Pinetop AZ, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC school online is one option to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Pinetop AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Pinetop and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes near Pinetop AZ
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Pinetop AZ area and across the United States to select from. That’s why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Pinetop AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It’s also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Pinetop AZ HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Pinetop AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Pinetop AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Pinetop AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Pinetop AZ, check that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Attending HVAC School near Pinetop AZ?
Pinetop–Lakeside is a small town in Navajo County, Arizona, United States. According to 2010 census, the population of the town is 4,282. It was founded in 1984 when the neighboring towns of Pinetop and Lakeside merged.
Pinetop–Lakeside is a popular summer resort and second-home area for Arizona desert residents. In 2002, a large forest fire, the Rodeo-Chediski fire, threatened the town and forced an evacuation. The town is near extensive forests, and in normal times is a popular recreational area.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 11.3 square miles (29 km2), of which, 11.3 square miles (29 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (0.71%) is water.
Enroll in the Right HVAC Training Course near Pinetop AZ
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick a vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Pinetop AZ.
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